As you may or may not have figured out by now, yours truly is a firm believer quality reigns supreme over quantity. That sentiment could not fit any of the Los Angeles Kings more than Marian Gaborik who needed just a few months to make his mark with the silver-and-black. If his 19 regular-season games with the Kings were promising, his performance in the playoffs were even more so.
When he came over from the Columbus Blue Jackets on March 5, I had my doubts about Marian Gaborik. Yes, he was both talented and proven, but Marian Gaborik was also injury-prone and was set to become an unrestricted free agent making $7 million annually. But nearly as soon as Gaborik began suiting up for his new team, those doubts began to subside.
Not only did he play in each of Los Angeles's remaining 19 regular-season games and all 26 of their playoff contests, Marian Gaborik made the most of his time on the ice.
Having just played in 22 games prior to being traded, the Slovakian veteran notched 14 points. In his 19 games with the Kings, Gaborik scored 16 (five goals, 11 assists) in addition to a +7 rating. Gaborik also helped out on the power play, registering five points and even found a reliable new linemate in Anze Kopitar. Even his 56 shots (just under three per game) struck fear in opposing defenses. But then, the playoffs came - and fans saw just how valuable the 32-year-old really was.
The fact that he didn't dish out as many hits or block many shots didn't matter to the Los Angeles Kings or their fans. After all, Marian Gaborik was brought to the City of Angels to do one thing: to score. In the playoffs, the former all-star made an immediate impact as he ultimately led the Kings (and all teams for that matter) with 14 goals, including late game-tying and overtime-winning goals in Game 1 of his team's series versus the hated Anaheim Ducks in Round 2. Of those 14 goals, three came on the power play.
Overall, Gaborik registered 22 points, which was fourth on the Kings behind Justin Williams, Jeff Carter and Anze Kopitar. The veteran also accumulated a +6 rating, generated a total of 78 shots (three per game) and even dished out 15 hits, which isn't bad considering he was never known for being physical. Nevertheless, Gaborik used his 6' 1, 204-pound frame to his advantage and overall, was a serious contender for the Conn Smythe as the Most Valuable Player in the playoffs. He may not have won the award but Marian Gaborik did win the one trophy every aspring kid fantasizes about winning: the Stanley Cup - and for that, his team and his fans could not be any more grateful.
Unfortunately, there was one black cloud hanging over Marian Gaborik, assuming it's even fair to describe it that way. But as great as Gaborik had been, he was set to become an unrestricted free agent - and an expensive one at that - at season's end. But Los Angeles GM Dean Lombardi made it work, not only re-signing the star but doing so with $5.5 million per year. Marian Gaborik took the hometown discount presumably because his desire to win is that strong. Regardless, to say Kings fans are elated to have No. 12 back next season would be a little more than a mild understatement.
Entering 2014-15, fans are curious to see how Marian Gaborik will fare in his first full season in Los Angeles. With that said, few are worried. After all, if the past few months are any indication, there really is no need to be concerned.
Quality does indeed reign supreme over quantity, and no King is a better example of that than Marian Gaborik.
Overall grade for Marian Gaborik: A